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Who goes to hackathons?

Hackathons are not only for programmers or ‘hackers’, they’re an experience which everyone should be going through. At the Smart Cities Hackathon, we built a community of people challenged to solve problems around healthcare, transport and employee engagement. 90% of the participants hadn’t been to a hackathon and I can guarantee you that everyone has come out of it wanting to be change makers, keen innovators, and wanting to make a difference.

There are many reasons why someone would come to a hackathon, such as networking, to have fun, learning from mentors, prizes, doing something challenging. The beauty about hackathons is that it gives you a glimpse of the startup world. If you catch the hackathon-bug, like what I had, you’ll be wanting to go to more and more!

Here are some common traits of those who have completed hackathons:

1) We are a community of ‘do-ers’

In short, we get sh*t done. After participating in over 30 hackathons, those who thrive at hackathons walk the talk. They have an objective, a vision to which they work towards. They are focused and understand the ‘why’. Instead of talking fluff, we think realistically and practically. We leverage our networks, operate efficiently and have the skills to complete tasks in a short time frame to achieve a result.

2) We are change agents

Not only do we participate in hackathons, we tell others about what we’ve done. We tell our friends, our families, our colleagues. We’re excited about what we’ve achieved over a short time frame and want to tell the world. The rest of the world feels a little slow when you’re back at your 9-5 job but you know the sky’s the limit and challenge the normalities.

3. We love a challenge

Throw us a problem, ask us questions, tell us about something new and creative and we’ll love you for it! As Woody Allen has said, 90% of success is just showing up. If you’ve shown up at a hackathon and have come back on the 2nd day and have lasted until the pitches then you know you’re up for a challenge. We don’t give up and carry each other over the finish line.

4) We use ‘work’ as as mechanism to netWORK

As we’re exchanging ideas, creating wireframes, binge eating lollies and drinking multiple cups of coffee, you get to know your teammates very well. You uncover each other’s strengths, learn about each other’s personalities and may even encounter some unusual habits. Next thing you know you’re adding each other on Facebook and LinkedIn, and if you end up working with each other you almost feel like you have a second family. This is how we netWORK.

5) We adapt to change

As a well known quote says: the only thing that’s constant is change. With the acceleration of technology and the world changing at a global pace, we learn from the best and stay ahead of the trend. Education is part of our blood and we use hackathons to learn from each other, experiment with new methodologies, processes, ideas and technologies. We have the capability to pivot and take on a growth mindset.

6) We see failure as opportunities

Opportunities are new beginnings that lead to greater knowledge. We don’t stick to our comfort zones but are willing to experiment. We don’t look down on mistakes but see them as ways of improvement. We don’t ponder on the past but look towards the future. Each failure is a learning experience.

7) We like to have fun and celebrate

Some may think we don’t sleep, others are amazed that we ‘work’ on weekends but little do they know how satisfying it is to do something different. Everyone comes with a positive attitude that creates a buzzing vibe. It’s liberating to think beyond the norm, knowing the sky’s the limit and when we hit those milestones we celebrate each win. Some are recognised reward recipients but we all know that everyone’s a winner. We also love a drink or few ;)

What makes us unique is that we are the movers and shakers, we are the ones who create the future. Schneider Electric has been a great example and you can read more about it in the ABC article

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